Almanack Contributor Jeff Farbaniec

Jeff Farbaniec

Jeff Farbaniec, of Saratoga County, is an avid telemark skier and a 46er who writes The Saratoga Skier and Hiker, a blog of his primarily Adirondack outdoor adventures.

Jeff's emphasis at the Almanack is on the ski sports - everything and anything related to Adirondack skiing. Jeff lives in Wilton, just south of the Blue Line, with his wife and their two young children.



Monday, November 10, 2014

Adirondack Ski Season Preview, 2014-15

Whiteface early snow Nov 7If you’re a skier or snowboarder, the best time of year is almost here.  With overnight temperatures dipping below freezing, ski areas around the region have begun firing up their snowmaking equipment to prepare for the start of the 2014-15 ski season.

Crews have been busy with projects all summer and fall, here’s a look at what they’ve been up to.



Friday, October 31, 2014

Commentary: Backcountry Skiers Seek SLMP Amendments

John Apperson SkiingThe Adirondack Park Agency (APA) is soliciting comments regarding their plan to amend the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan (SLMP), the document which governs management of the state-owned “forever wild” lands of the Adirondack Park. It’s the first time the SLMP has been substantially amended in more than 25 years, and represents a critical opportunity for advocates of backcountry skiing.

Among the changes that are being considered is a proposal from the Adirondack Powder Skier Association (APSA) to explicitly allow for the creation and maintenance of designated backcountry ski touring trails on Forest Preserve lands classified as Wild Forest and Wilderness.



Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Adirondack Ski Season Preview

Early season snowmaking at WhitefaceThis is the time of year when skiers’ anticipation is at its peak.  The first snows have already whitened the higher elevations of the Adirondacks, signaling winter’s approach.

If you’re a die-hard skier, you’ve lined up your season pass and tuned up your equipment.  You wear your pajamas inside-out and you’ve flushed a tray of ice cubes down the toilet (trust me, it works) to ensure a winter of bountiful snow.

Maybe you’ve even had a bonfire to sacrifice a pair of skis to Ullr, the Norse god of snow and skiing.  All that’s left now is waiting for the chairlifts to start spinning.  Ski areas in the region have been busy too, » Continue Reading.



Monday, October 7, 2013

Commentary: Stop Using Big Tupper As A Pawn

Big-Tupper-Trail-Map-792x1024ARISE (Adirondack Residents Intent on Saving their Economy), the volunteer group that ran Big Tupper Ski Area for the winters of 2010-11 and 2011-12, recently announced that Big Tupper will be open for the 2013-14 season. The ski area did not operate last winter due to a shortfall of funds and volunteer burnout.

Keeping any ski area open and running is great for the sport. Small, local hills like Big Tupper are vitally important because they provide a lower-cost alternative and they introduce people to skiing. Kudos to the volunteers at Big Tupper for all their efforts over the past few years.  But it’s not all good news.



Thursday, May 16, 2013

State Run Adirondack Ski Areas Rebound in 2012-13

Whiteface Dec 12 2012According to preliminary data for this year released by the National Ski Areas Association, after a disappointing 2011-12 winter, ski resorts reported an 11% increase in visitation nationally, with a 20% increase in skier visits in the Northeast region.

Not surprisingly given the reduced snowfall last year, results at Gore and Whiteface, both operated by the Olympic Region Development Authority (ORDA), improved significantly for the 2012-13 season.



Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Adirondack Ski Conditions Roundup

New skis for Christmas? If so, your timing is about perfect. Snow conditions at Adirondack ski areas are arguably the best we’ve seen so far this season, and trail counts have been steadily expanding. If the storm that is predicted to drop a foot of snow region-wide tonight and tomorrow delivers as promised, ski conditions will be ideal.

We skied Sunday and Monday at Gore, where roughly 30% of the mountain’s trails were open. Snowmaking crews were at work getting more expert trails ready to come online. A very dense natural snow base on the unopened trails and in the glades means that » Continue Reading.



Monday, December 17, 2012

An Adirondack Ski Conditions Roundup

Snowmaking at Whiteface on Wednesday, Dec. 12It may be hard to believe that we’re a month into the ski season, but Whiteface kicked things off on November 17 with its earliest opening in nearly 10 years. Following rain and warm temperatures last week, snowmaking and grooming crews have been able get trails resurfaced quickly, and skiers heading to the slopes this weekend should see some of the best conditions of the season so far. I skied at Whiteface on Wednesday (you can read my report here), and was amazed at how good the skiing was just 36 hours after last Monday’s rain. Other skiers that I’ve spoken » Continue Reading.



Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Snowmaking Begins: Ski Season Preview 2012-13

Maybe it’s pent-up demand following last year’s lackluster ski season, but skiers seem more excited than usual about the approaching ski season. Adirondack ski areas are eagerly anticipating a bounce back from last winter’s disappointing snowfall too, and have been busy with upgrades and improvements all summer.

Snow this weekend meant some tentative trips down the Whiteface Memorial Highway, and cold temperatures last night have kicked-off snowmaking at Gore and Whiteface.



Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Oktoberfest Planned at “New” Titus Mountain

Base lodge expansion at Titus MountainSkiers will have more terrain choices this winter at Titus Mountain, in Malone. 15 new trails, eleven of which are glades, have been added, bringing the ski area’s trail count to 42. The new terrain encompasses all ability levels, from beginner to expert. A second terrain park has also been added, and a major expansion of the ski area’s base lodge is underway. “We’ve completely gutted and renovated the lodge,” said Bruce Monette, Principal at Titus. “People will not recognize the place.”

The expansion comes less than a year after Monette and his two brothers, Brian and Christopher, purchased the ski area from long-time owner Paul Augustine. “With all » Continue Reading.



Monday, May 14, 2012

Jeff Farbaniec: 2011-12 Ski Season Worst in 20 Years

Skiing the Essex trail at Whiteface, December 14, 2011It’s official.  The 2011-12 ski season was the worst in 20 years.  That’s according to the National Ski Areas Association’s (NSAA) preliminary end-of-season survey released last week.  Nationwide, skier visits were down by more than 15%, to their lowest levels since the 1991-92 ski season.  The season was characterized by low snowfall and mild winter weather across nearly the entire U.S.

All this comes as no surprise to skiers or anyone who enjoys winter outdoor recreation in the Adirondacks.  Natural snowfall was sparse, and a lack of cold temperatures hampered snowmaking operations all season long.  By the end of March, every ski area in New York State had » Continue Reading.



Thursday, January 26, 2012

Free Cross-Country Skiing: Tupper Lake’s Groomed Trails

Nordic skiers in the northern Adirondacks will want to keep Tupper Lake’s free, groomed cross-country trail system on their radar screen. Expected snowfall should have the 10k trail network skiable this weekend. The trails are located on town-owned land and can be accessed from the Tupper Lake Country Club or Big Tupper Ski Area.

Even though the trail system has been in existence for 40 years, it’s something of a well-kept secret. “We’d like to change that,” says John Gillis, one of a half dozen community volunteers who maintain the trails in winter using snowmobiles and a variety of grooming and track-setting equipment. The trail system is free » Continue Reading.



Thursday, December 22, 2011

Holiday Outlook for Adirondack Ski Areas

It’s no secret that it’s been a difficult start to the ski season. Besides a notable lack of snowfall, the cold temperatures that ski areas need for snowmaking operations have so far been hard to come by.

I started my ski season on Thanksgiving weekend, when both Gore and Whiteface opened for the 2011-2012 season, and I’ve now got several days at both mountains under my belt. Although trail choices have been limited (both mountains are about 20% open as of this writing), conditions have been surprisingly good, thanks to efficient snowmaking plants and modern grooming equipment. You can check out my most recent visits to Gore » Continue Reading.



Monday, December 5, 2011

Double H Ranch’s Adaptive Winter Sports Program

Sometime in early January, the first participants in Double H Ranch’s Adaptive Winter Sports Program will begin arriving at Double H’s facility in Lake Luzerne. The program offers children with chronic and life-threatening illnesses the opportunity to participate in downhill and cross-country skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing. Around 30 children per day typically participate in the program, which runs every winter weekend from January through March. Most children participate for 3 or 4 days over the course of the winter, and five Family Sleepover Weekends allow the entire family to participate in winter sports together. The program takes place on Double H’s ski slopes, which are equipped with a » Continue Reading.



Thursday, November 17, 2011

Adirondack Cross-Country Ski Season Preview

Two inches. According to Olavi Hirvonen, owner of the Lapland Lake cross-country ski area in Northville, two inches of dense snow is all that’s needed to get at least a few kilometers of Lapland Lake’s trail network open for skiing. And if anyone should know, it’s Olavi: with 34 years experience grooming Lapland Lake’s trails on a daily basis, he’s considered to be the most experienced groomer in North America.

While we’re waiting for the snow to fly, here’s a round-up of what skiers can look forward to at Adirondack cross-country ski centers this winter. Lapland Lake in Northville has 38km of trails that are snowcat » Continue Reading.



Monday, October 31, 2011

Commentary: ORDA Privatization Not The Answer

In a recent editorial, the Glens Falls Post-Star stated “it’s time for officials to re-think the financial and ownership model” underlying the New York State-owned winter sports facilities managed by the Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA), including the Gore and Whiteface Mountain ski centers.

The Post-Star argues that declining taxpayer support for these facilities (the state currently contributes $4.6 million dollars to ORDA’s $30 million annual budget, down from a $7 million contribution in 2008-09), jeopardizes their future viability. “For the sake of the Adirondack economy and for the towns and counties that thrive on the successful operation of these venues” the Post Star’s editorial staff suggests “a different » Continue Reading.



Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Upcoming Adirondack Ski Season Preview

The first few snowflakes of the year have already dusted the highest peaks of the Adirondacks, and skiers and riders are looking forward to opening day. Here’s a preview of what’s in store for this winter at downhill ski centers in the Adirondack region.

At Gore Mountain, 130 new high-efficiency tower guns will provide a major improvement in the mountain’s snowmaking capabilities. The new guns will be installed on trails that constitute some of the mountain’s most popular intermediate terrain including Sunway, Wild Air, Sleighride and Quicksilver. The new guns will also be installed on Sagamore, the expert trail which forms the core of Gore’s Burnt Ridge » Continue Reading.



Thursday, June 2, 2011

Commentary: ORDA Should Run Belleayre

Belleyare Mountain Ski Center, located in the Catskills and currently operated by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), could instead be managed by the Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA), according to officials at ORDA. The idea comes from Governor Cuomo’s Commission on Spending and Government Efficiency (SAGE), and could be implemented as early as next winter. If implemented, the proposal stands to benefit skiers and the economies of the Catskills and Adirondacks.



Sunday, May 8, 2011

June is Adirondack Birding Festival Month

Take the Teddy Roosevelt Birding Challenge this spring in the Adirondacks or join birders from across the country during June’s birding weekend celebrations in the Adirondacks. See boreal birds like the black-backed woodpecker, three-toed woodpecker, boreal chickadee, spruce grouse, Bicknell’s thrush and several migrating warblers.

Join friends and fellow birders at the 9th Annual Adirondack Birding Celebration June 3-5, 2011 at the Paul Smith’s College Interpretive Center in Paul Smiths. The Adirondack Park Institute will host birding trips, lectures, workshops and the popular Teddy Roosevelt Birding Challenge. A special keynote address will be given by noted bird expert, author and naturalist Scott » Continue Reading.



Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Stony Pond Ski Traverse and Falls Brook Yurts

Some of the best ski tours in the Adirondacks are traverses: Avalanche Pass to Tahawus, Siamese Ponds and the East Branch of the Sacandaga, and Hoffman Notch to name a few popular point-to-point routes. On Saturday, I had the opportunity to ski one of my favorite lesser known tours with a group of friends, from Route 28N in Minerva to Irishtown, passing Stony Pond and Big and Little Sherman Ponds along the 6-mile traverse. As a bonus, near the end of the traverse, our group made a detour to visit the Falls Brook Yurts, owned by Jim Hanley and Michele Quirk. The » Continue Reading.



Monday, January 24, 2011

Lost Ski Areas of the Adirondacks

Jeremy Davis is founder of the New England Lost Ski Areas Project (NELSAP) and author of two books on that subject. Last week I had the opportunity to talk with Davis about NELSAP, his books and lost ski areas of the Adirondacks.

Jeff: So, just what is a “lost” ski area?

Jeremy: It’s a ski area that once offered lift-served, organized skiing, but is now abandoned and closed for good. For NELSAP’s purposes it had to have a lift – it could be a simple rope tow or multiple chairlifts, but it had to have a lift. The size of the area or number of lifts » Continue Reading.



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